A new collaborative effort of four major professional counseling organizations aimed at improving access to quality mental health care nationwide has resulted in a proposed uniform portability plan called the – National Counselor Licensure Endorsement Process - or “NCLEP 2.0.”
The four organizations – the American Association of State Counseling Boards (AASCB), the Association of Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES), the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA), and the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) – believe that a uniform licensure endorsement process will:
- Significantly increase public access to qualified care.
- Establish minimum standards for safe practice.
- Reduce administrative burdens for state regulatory boards and licensees.
- Create consistency in licensure standards across state lines.
- Ensure protection of the public and the continued development of the profession.
An overarching goal of the initiative is to move the counseling profession toward unified education standards, exam requirements and years of post-graduate experience.
President of AASCB, Ryan Pickut, said, “Portability of licensure is a need that the counseling profession must address to improve access to care. Taking the steps to improve portability will protect the public and add to the strategies through which licensed professional counselors across the country may provide critical services, while at the same time creating a network of reciprocal relationships across the country. AASCB will be requesting that its member boards carefully consider the provisions outlined in the joint statement.”
President of ACES, Kristopher Goodrich, said, “We believe our united portability process will significantly benefit mental health consumers by increasing access to needed care and services, and it will help create a vibrant workforce of licensed counselors in terms of changing regulatory standards. Moreover, we believe a secure, counselor portability licensure process will ensure that consumer protections are in place.”
President of AMHCA, Eric Beeson, said, “Having the leading organizations representing the counselor licensing boards, counselor educators, mental health counselors, and board certified counselors jointly agree to a collaborative portability process, creates a way for states to pave a path forward for highly qualified current and future counselors to improve client access to services. This proposal represents the best chance to accomplish this crucial need for quality services around the country.”
President of NBCC, Kylie Dotson-Blake, said, “We recognize that no portability process is a “silver bullet” that resolves all concerns related to portability. Each state has different needs and NCLEP 2.0 is intended to be a starting point to address these needs, limit administrative overhead, and protect the public. We hope by reducing variability in the counselor licensure process and requirements, we will facilitate cross-state practice and movement, and provide a major shot in the arm for needed rule and statutory changes.”
The officers of the four counseling organizations said the portability plan is built on principles of quality assurance and national standards.
Each group will work through their advocacy arms and/or government affairs departments—and with the assistance of mental health counselors willing to lend their time and support—to encourage state licensing boards and legislative bodies to adopt the proposal.
The plan will promote acceptance of a license from another state if the applicant meets current standards adopted by the receiving state counseling licensure board. Another option provided to states for accepting applicants includes if the individual holds a degree from a clinically focused counselor preparation program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP), or holds certification as a National Certified Counselor. It also requires that a counselor possess the highest level of licensure for independent practice for at least three years before licensure endorsement in a given state.
In an era of a mobile workforce, which is increasingly receptive to innovative service delivery such as tele-mental health services, a national, uniform portability process is more vital than ever. We believe the time has come to pave a path forward for highly qualified current and future counselors to improve client access to services. This new portability statement provides that roadmap.
The four counseling organizations are part of a Portability Task Force that worked on the proposal over the last year. The task force principals said the leadership and collaboration that went into the effort demonstrates the critical importance of professional unification and portability of licensure.
National Counselor Licensure Endorsement Process 2.0
Adopted October 2019
Any counselor licensed as a mental health counselor at the highest level of licensure for independent practice available in his or her state may obtain licensure in any other state or territory of the U.S. if the applicant meets the requirements of Option 1 OR Option 2 below:
The applicant meets current standards for endorsement adopted by the receiving state counseling licensure board.
The applicant has been actively licensed as a mental health counselor for at least three (3) years prior to the date of application for licensure endorsement, is currently in good standing with no pending disciplinary action, and has completed a jurisprudence or equivalent exam and background checks as required by the state regulatory body (if required by the originating state).
In addition, the applicant must comply
of the following under Option 2:
- Has maintained a license to practice independently that was awarded on or before December 31, 2014.
- Possesses the National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential as issued by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).
- Possesses a graduate-level degree in counseling from a regionally accredited program (if the degree is awarded on or after January 1, 2025, then possesses a graduate level degree from a program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP).